By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has on Saturday 23rd January 2020, urged ECOWAS to intervene into the unsolved Yenga matter between Guinea and Sierra Leone and also the recent closure of border by Conakry thus calling on the regional body to urgently create a special committee to look into the issue.
President Bio made this call during the video conference of the 58th ordinary session of the ECOWAS authority of Head of state and Government where he said that his country has observed with deep concern the increased instances of incursions by Guinean troops in the Yenga area which is in the undisputed sovereign territory of Sierra Leone adding that the issue remains unresolved and that their Guinean counterparts have continued to encroach on the country’s land and sea borders.
“Sierra Leone calls on this body to urgently create a special committee to look into the unsolved Yenga matter between the two countries through diplomatic engagement with a view to finding a lasting solution to this long-standing boundary dispute,’’ President Bio said.
President Bio added that Sierra Leone is concerned about the restrictions imposed from the Guinean end on the free movement of goods and people between the two countries which he said has created huge economic loss for both countries thus urging the Government of the Republic of Guinea to consider removing these restrictions to enable the free movement of people, goods and services in order to promote cooperation, regional trade, and regional integration.
“It is also time for the community to devote collective efforts towards strengthening intra-community trade, and also to implement the cross-border region project to fast-track regional integration and facilitate the implementation of the AfCFTA. This will further remove all trade barriers between our respective countries and enhance cross border movements and trade. Sierra Leone shares borders with Guinea and Liberia and therefore fostering cross border cooperation (as acceded to in the AfCFTA pact) is important in our community,’’President Bio added.
He further added that the country favourably welcomes ongoing sub-regional initiatives in the areas of agriculture, mining, energy, water, infrastructure, and education stating that these initiatives improve regional integration with the outcomes of bettering the lives of our peoples in our community.
“Sierra Leone commends and applauds the work of the West African Health Organization in the health sector and for minimising the impact of COVID-19 on our community safe during this pandemicc. Sierra Leone applauds the ECOWAS Commission for demonstrating inspirational leadership and commitment in the preparation of the ECOWAS Vision 2050. As with Sierra Leone’s Medium –Term National Development Plan (2019-2023), I am informed that the roadmap for preparing ECOWAS Vision 2050 was inclusive and followed broad based stakeholder consultations, including the effective participation of member states,’’